Gigapixel Photo of 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Aftermath

Ruins of San Francisco in 1906
John P.

Ruins of San Francisco in 1906

George Lawrence used aerial kites to photograph San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake. His photographs appeared in newspapers around the world and generated more than $15,000 for the photographer.

Below is a high resolution GigaPixel scan from the original 4 foot wide photograph. Well, technically it’s only a measly 11,709 x 4,716 resolution – translating to only .55 gigapixels, but we’ll let it slide since this is for posterity’s sake and all that.

For those of you who are unaware, San Francisco experienced a devastating earthquake in 1906 which started fires that burned uncontrollably and essentially destroyed the entire city.

To use the panorama, click inside the photo below, then you can use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out, and click and drag within the photo to move it around. If your mouse doesn’t have a scroll wheel, just use the zoom bar in the top left corner of the picture to zoom in and out.


  1. says

    You could certainly see your skills within the paintings you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  2. SyGorg says

    “used aerial kites to photograph” … how did they look like? Like a baloon with sails on top of it? … cause that is what I see in the photo I have … unbelivable. If anybody want`s it mailed to him or her let me know.

  3. SyGorg says

    Well the photos are one and the same photo … with a twist on the one I have … I do not get it. Maybe it was tempered. Does anyone know anything about two versions of the one photo above?

  4. SyGorg says

    Ooops, this is strange … I have the same photo at home and there is a difference … it really has a flying “thing” on it. This one doesen`t … ?!? I thought it was here to but no, … wait let me have another look at the situation …

  5. SyGorg says

    OK we all see that the pic is awsome and quite futuristic for those days … I presume. But … what I would like to know more about is the background of the shot, how was it taken, with what camera, … not to mention the flying baloon left in the back … what is that all about?!? Did anyone notice? Looks like they have a pirate flag on it … no, really, what is that???

    Amazing pic!!! Have fun, Goran

  6. Alexei says

    I’m afraid that 11,709 x 4,716 is only 0.055 gigapixels. Sorry!

    Fascinating photo, though. Those are the burnt remains of the dome of City Hall to the right of Market St. in the center.

  7. Meghan Reardon says

    Hi Douglas,
    I noticed your post saying you are using some photography work from the 1920’s by Edward Cochems. My great-great grandmother Anna Cochems and Edward were brother and sister. Making Edward Cochems my great-great uncle. I would love to know more about the work you are doing for your book. Please e-mail me back when you have a chance. I have seen some of his work and I’m very interested in any other info on Edward Cochems.


    Meghan Reardon

  8. Douglas Westfall says

    Excellent shot of Lawrence — I have two others of his in my book on the ’06 quake, taken three years apart. I’m using 75 panorama photos in a forthcoming book on So Cal history — all taken in the 1920s with a Cirkut camera by Edward Cochems. Great stuff. Best Regards, Douglas Westfall

  9. says

    $15,000 in 1906 dollars, adjusted into 2006 real dollars would be between $346,788.99 and $6,376,993.31, depending upon which index you’d use.

    That’d be a nice chunk of change for a couple of kites and a photograph.

  10. says

    The aftetrmath was unbelievable, more unbelievable the politicians later built large parts of the current San Francisco on reclaimed land which is geologically unsound. The danger will be compounded if another quake hits with enough force.

  11. says

    Thats a scary thought. I actually was in San Fran for the first time last week and checked out P39/Chinatown. Drove up HWY 1. It was amazing.

    Thats a gorgeous picture

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